Starbucks switches its happy hour to invitation-only

The coffee chain is also moving the promo’s focus away from Frappuccinos to a wider range of afternoon deals.

Starbucks on Thursday will launch a revamped happy hour program as the coffee chain looks to perk up slumping afternoon sales.

Rather than solely discounting Frappuccino beverages for all afternoon customers, as Starbucks has done in the past, this new happy hour serves up wide-ranging deals solely for users of the Starbucks app or for those who’ve otherwise provided their email address to the company.

The promo kicks off with half off all espresso beverages from 3 p.m. to close for those who’ve received an invite. Happy hour will run throughout 2018, a company spokeswoman said, with its special events and offers changing frequently.

Starbucks’ loyalty program currently has nearly 15 million active users, the company said, while 100 million people visit the chain’s stores each week.

“This shift in Happy Hour is just one example of how we can further establish, strengthen and develop digital relationships with our customers,” Matt Ryan, executive vice president and chief strategy officer for Starbucks, said in a statement.

Starbucks has made no secret of its recent dissatisfaction with its Frappuccino Happy Hour promotion.

“Recently, particularly in the afternoon, those sparks just haven't worked well, they haven’t paid off, they haven’t paid back,” Scott Maw, Starbucks executive vice president and chief financial officer, said at a conference earlier this month. “Frappuccino Happy Hour is probably the biggest extreme of that, not really paying back. So, we're going to do very different things around happy hour this year.”

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


It's time to send 'ghost kitchen' to the graveyard

Tech Check: The catch-all term for delivery restaurants is no longer accurate. Let’s lay it to rest and come up with a new label.


Higher-end consumers may be slowing their spending

The Bottom Line: There is some evidence that higher-income consumers may be cutting back. Or maybe there was just some pent-up demand.


Wonder bets meal kits aren't dead yet

Tech Check: By acquiring the struggling Blue Apron, the restaurant delivery concept believes it can touch more dining occasions. But will it work?


More from our partners